Tiny yields of quality fruit from old vines? That’s old news to the Llopart family of Subirats. They’ve been making Cava this way since the 19th century. At 87, Pere Llopart is the 4th generation of his family to follow this winemaking philosophy, which he is now passing on to his five children. “Llopart vineyards are the essence of the Llopart Cava character,” he says.
The average age of Pere’s vines is 40, with some reaching 60, 70 and even 85 years old. This, along with rigorous viticultural practices such as green pruning and selective manual harvesting, means Llopart has some of the lowest yields in the area. It produces a tiny 5,000-5,500 kg/hectare, when the maximum requirement for Cava DO is 12,000.
The family also hold a deep respect for the land, farming completely organically since 2000 and obtaining the EU´s Organic Certification in 2013. Pere explains, “The idea is to make the vines naturally resistant to disease, create a balanced environment and encourage biodiversity, so that the ecosystem regulates itself.”
But it helps if you have great terroir. At an elevation of 1,000-1,300 feet in the Subirats sub-region of Cava DO, Llopart’s 500ha of vineyards benefit from cooler temperatures than in the town below, but are protected from extreme cold by the Montserrat mountains. At 15km from the coast, the vines are also protected from any humidity. The area’s shallow, calcareous soil, uneven slopes and terraces stress the vines and, along with their significant age, contribute to Llopart’s extremely low yields of high quality fruit.
The vineyards are harvested in ‘levels’ according to variety and altitude, ensuring that only fruit that has reached optimum ripeness reaches the winery. From the pressings only 50% of the first free run juice is kept and used to produce Llopart Cava, while the remaining 50% is sold on.
All the wines are aged for a minimum of 18 months, so all their Cavas are no less than Reserva (for which the minimum ageing requirement is 15 months). The Gran Reservas are riddled by hand.
Pere tells us, “Our Cavas are very gastronomic, they pair perfectly with the main courses of any meal. We like to explain that every cava has its moment: the Rosé Brut is perfect as a welcome glass, paired with some appetizers (both sweet and salty), with a fruit salad, even with chocolate; pair the Brut Reserva with a tuna tartar for an unforgettable experience; the Imperial Panoramic matches perfectly with sheep cheese, pork brochettes, grilled steak or taste it with coco chilly soup with chicken.”